What Does It Mean To Miss Against Mitsukoshi?

The opening games of a new football season always throw up difficult questions for football teams. Sunday’s game against Mitsukoshi asked a lot of questions of City, and we will have to wait a little longer to see if this season’s group of Taipei City players has the answers.

Conceding one early goal might be considered unlucky, but conceding two definitely asks questions! There was a general lassitude running all the way through the team in that first half hour that can only be described as pathetic. Did we think we were playing Dentway? The way Mitsukoshi gave City the run-around reflected poorly not only on City’s match preparations, which was typically sloppy, but also on City’s match fitness. Perhaps nobody should be surprised that City was not match fit in their second BML game. Still, we were comprehensively out-passed in the critical opening stages. City also showed worrying indecision in their passing, heading and challenges for loose balls. Whichever way you look at it, the first half-hour was a lamentable chapter in the history of the club.

Mitsukoshi deserve credit for putting pressure on a slow-to-wake-up City. The two best players on the park, the speedy Johnson and an impressive new midfielder in the shape of No.26, were both Mitsukoshi players. The other Mitsukoshi players also played their part with quick and crisp passes. There was simply an urgency about the way Mitsukoshi played that City could not match. Given that simple truth, the City players should ask themselves whether other better teams will let them back into games.

The two Mitsukoshi goals were the result of quick balls into space for Johnson. His pace carried him away from defenders and while his finishing was not deadly he got his shots away quickly – the hallmark of a good striker – and gave no time for City’s defenders or midfield to recover. 2-0 down after twenty minutes, in a match City expected to win? City was simply not ready to play a game of football against a good team. Thankfully, things got better.

Dale started in goal, with Matt Wharton at right-back, Ricardo Abrega at left-back, and Brian McGuinness and Mamadi Colley in central defence; Danny Weir was at right-midfield, with Luis Mayorga and Michael Christie in the centre and Lionel Cassanova in left-midfield. Up front, the physically imposing partnership of Dan Calvert and Ally led the line.

Quite late in the second half, already chasing the game at two goals down, City finally rolled up their sleeves and at least started to compete. City’s first goal came from Danny Weir who controlled a speculative cross which landed at his feet just inside the box. He sidestepped twice and then passed the ball into the corner. This was well-deserved for Danny. City began to impose more pressure and create more scoring chances as the half-time whistle approached. The second goal was a header by Dan C from a corner by Danny. This was a good call and emphatic finish from Dan C.

There were other opportunities to score before half-time. For example, Lionel found Dan with a great ball to feet in the inside channel. Unfortunately, Dan hit the ball at the keeper. Ally was an engine of industry and he was one of the few City players who looked as if he was serious about this game. The tide was turning before half-time, with the Mitsukoshi players looking tired, but the fast-paced first-half had actually taken a lot out of both teams.

At half-time, Lionel made way for Alex R, while Ally came off for Omar. Both Lionel and Ally had played some good football, and they were unlucky to be coming off because quite honestly it could just as well have been anybody else.

With Alex R providing some much needed bite and drive, and Omar playing with invention, the stage was set for a siege of the tired Mitsukoshi players. It was now that the Mitsukoshi goalkeeper decided to come out of his shell and make some good saves. There were a few good chances and several half-chances for City but no firm finishes. The only tactic Mitsukoshi had left was the quick breakaway spearheaded by Johnson and orchestrated by No. 26, but they had little real support because all the other Mitsukoshi players were defending behind the ball. While City dominated the second half and really should have scored, the truth is that City was only able to do this because it was less tired than Mitsukoshi, who had already shot their bolt completely.

The only bolt on display from City came from Alex R. While others either shot straight at the goalkeeper or side-footed lamely, Alex R finding the ball at his feet on the edge of the box, hit it with both power and precision. Did the goalkeeper get a finger to the ball before it cannoned back off the bar?

City managed to put the ball in the back of the net once, but the goal was disallowed. After some good passing down the right, Omar was near the bye-line and in a position to fire the ball behind the Mitsukoshi line of defenders. Instead, he turned brilliantly and gave a short pass on the floor, teeing up Christie who was running into the box from behind. Christie’s powder-puff finish was deflected by a Mitsukoshi defender into the net – almost certainly the only way it was going to reach the net – and City thought it had gone ahead for two seconds, until the linesman raised his flag. Although he had not touched the ball, Dan C was ruled offside for blocking the goalkeeper’s sight of the ball.

In the last three minutes, City (in the person of was it Matt W or Brian McG?) launched a good cross into the area where Omar and Dan both gamely went for the same header. Unluckily, Omar’s effort rebounded off the bar. A few, short minutes later the referee blew up and the game was over without any kind of sense of climax.

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